By David Mayernik Jr. | TribLive.com
Ricci Minella’s full-time job is on wheels but soon he will have a stationary location for his business in Heidelberg.
Minella, of Scott, owns Burgh Bites, one of five food trucks that visited Heidelberg near the Ellsworth Avenue playground on May 20 for the start of the second year of the borough’s “Food Truck Friday.”
He plans to open a restaurant and catering business, Brick and Mortar, on East Railroad Street in early fall. The renovated building will have a “big kitchen” and offer takeout and delivery.
“We do a lot of weddings at farms where they don’t have kitchens. We just roll up and we have a whole kitchen,” Minella said.
“Food Truck Friday” is the brainchild of Carrie Nolan, president of Heidelberg Council, who initially investigated bringing a farmers market to Heidelberg, but it proved difficult to schedule after talking with local farms and markets.
She then turned to the popularity of food trucks and “Food Truck Friday” was born last July.
The event will remain on Ellsworth Avenue six more times this summer after being moved to Heidelberg Borough Park last summer due to playground renovations. The next one is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. June 10.
“The food trucks like it better up here. And without the food trucks we don’t have ‘Food Truck Friday,’ right? We’re working on keeping it up here for all seven (dates this summer),” Nolan said.
“Last year was our test run. This year we have it all spelled out. It was a huge success last year.”
Nolan said the borough received calls asking if the food trucks would roll back into Heidelberg this summer.
“In the last couple of weeks, we’ve gotten a lot of calls about it at the office. We drew a pretty good crowd out here (May 20).”
Nolan said renovations at the Ellsworth Avenue playground included milling and repaving the surface and painting lines for hockey and basketball. Officials are working on finishing electrical work and raising a fence to 10 feet tall.
“It’s not functioning the way we would like it to right now. We have safety concerns that we’re addressing with the fence, mostly, because we’re worried about balls going out into the street. It’s a process but it’s going to happen.”
Minella said his new permanent location in Heidelberg will help keep his yellow truck safe when not traveling to events.
“We put a big garage on the back to house the truck. Pittsburgh winters are not good on the truck. It will help keep it out of the weather. It’s a nice, big space.”
Minella started his business two years ago after going to culinary school and selling hot dogs and sandwiches from a food cart in Shadyside.
“I always wanted to open a restaurant but I didn’t want to be the chef. Once I learned how to cook, I started to realize I did like it. That’s one big thing about this whole experience that changed me. Other than that, being my own boss is amazing,” he said.
“With the whole restaurant industry, it’s a really, really tough industry. What’s nice about food trucks is if the well’s dry somewhere you just drive somewhere else. You can always find business.”